Forging connections, creating an equitable future, building livable communities and providing effective leadership; these were the key themes of the 2012 Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference in Miami. As a grant-maker, TCG is an active member of GIA, and last week I had the good fortune of presenting in two different sessions.
The first focused on research, where I presented data from Theatre Facts 2011, alongside colleagues from Dance/USA, the League of American Orchestras and the National Endowment for the Arts, who shared their respective research studies. Some common discoveries were: the tentative fiscal recovery in some of our disciplines; the growing interest in process and behind-the-scenes engagement; the positive correlation between online and live participation in the arts; and the rise of individuals as a leading source of contributed income.
The second session focused on leadership and featured the American Express Foundation, TCG and the National Guild for Community Arts Education. We focused on the continuing importance of leadership development among arts professionals, and shared the impact of programs such as the TCG/American Express Leadership Boot Camp—read testimonials from the 2012 program on the TCG Circle.
Then, I found myself in the Mile High City (keeping in mind the importance of staying hydrated) for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) meeting. It’s always a great pleasure to visit with so many colleagues and hear from this important part of TCG’s membership. LORT theatres demonstrated their collective leadership last Friday through a press event to announce the Blue Star Theatres program. In the span of a few short weeks, we have leapt past our original goal for this program of 50 participating theatres, reaching 57 nationwide—37 of which are members of LORT!
Someone who exemplified theatre leadership was M. Edgar Rosenblum, who served as president of LORT after his 26-year tenure as executive director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Terry Greiss, Barbara Mackenzie-Wood and Jim Niesen met as actors at Long Wharf in 1977 before going on to found the Irondale Ensemble Project. According to Niesen, “Working at Long Wharf in a tremendously supportive creative environment gave us a model of how we wanted to keep working throughout our careers.” They’re honoring that memory through the M. Edgar Rosenblum Awards to recognize service to the theatre and ensemble, and you can learn more about this year’s ceremony here.
Perhaps this is the greatest testament of true leadership: to kindle that pioneering flame in others, even after you’re gone.